Pros and Cons for E-Cigarettes As Aid to Smoking Cessation

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Researchers present evidence supporting their use, and discuss the limits and hazards of use
Researchers present evidence supporting their use, and discuss the limits and hazards of use

(HealthDay News) -- Evidence relating to the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as helpful smoking cessation tools is presented and discussed in a head to head article published online in The BMJ.

Paul Aveyard, PhD, MBBS, from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and Deborah Arnott, from Action on Smoking and Health in London, discussed the pros of recommending e-cigarettes. The authors note that e-cigarettes seem to double the likelihood of achieving abstinence and are as effective as nicotine replacement therapy for supporting cessation. E-cigarettes are popular cessation aids, which may lead to increases in the success of quit attempts. Although experimentation with e-cigarettes seems relatively common among young people, regular use among never smokers is rare.

Kenneth C. Johnson, PhD, from the University of Ottawa in Canada, presented evidence relating to the limits and hazards of the use of e-cigarettes as a cessation aid. He notes that overall evidence indicated that e-cigarettes reduce cigarette smoking cessation. Smokers who are daily users of high-dose e-cigarettes may quit more, but most are less likely to quit than nonusers. A meta-analysis of 25 studies showed that smokers using e-cigarettes were 27% less likely to stop smoking. Furthermore, evidence indicates that e-cigarette use increases the risk of ever smoking among youth.

"The net effect of e-cigarettes on smoking cessation is negative, high levels of dual use undermine harm reduction, and gateway risks for youth smoking initiation are a demonstrated danger," Johnson writes.

One author was chief investigator of a trial for which GlaxoSmithKline donated nicotine patches.

Reference

Coburn N, Wallis CJD, and Baxter N. Links between age and sex of surgeons and patients' outcomes. BMJ 2018;361 doi:10.1136/bmj.k1691. (Published online April 25, 2018)

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